, Volume 833, Issue 1, pp 197–215 | Cite as

Fishers’ local ecological knowledge indicate migration patterns of tropical freshwater fish in an Amazonian river

  • Moisés Ubiratã Schmitz Nunes
  • Gustavo Hallwass
  • Renato Azevedo Matias SilvanoEmail author
Primary Research Paper


The local ecological knowledge (LEK) of fishers may help to fill the knowledge gaps about migration of tropical fish. We investigated fishers’ LEK on migratory patterns of seven fish species along 550 km of the Tapajos River, in the Brazilian Amazon. We interviewed 270 fishers individually in four stretches of this river. The interviewed fishers indicated that three fish species do not migrate over long distances, while four fish species perform migrations, usually longitudinal migration from downstream to upstream reaches. Fishers also mentioned an increase in size of a large catfish species in the upstream stretches of the studied river, indicating the potential occurrence of spawning adults there. These results from fishers’ knowledge indicated that planned dams in the upstream reaches of the Tapajos River will threaten migratory fishes, small-scale fisheries and food security. Fishers’ LEK on fish migration contributed to raise testable biological hypotheses about fish spawning and feeding grounds, as well as the occurrence of distinct populations along the river. The analysis of the LEK of many fishers at several sites over a broad range is a cost-effective source of information on fish migration, supporting environmental impact assessment, fisheries management, and conservation in this and other tropical rivers.


Ethnobiology Fish reproduction Dams Small-scale fisheries Environmental impacts Fish conservation 



We thank to all Tapajos fishers for their contribution to this study. We thank to Clarice B. Fialho, Daniela M. Nunes and Sandra M. Hartz for useful comments on a previous version of this work. We thank Márcio L. F. Rato for help with the interviews. We thank to ICMBio for a permit to interview fishers in conservation units. We thank to financial support by the Higher Education Personnel Training Coordination (CAPES) (AUXPE PROCAD/NF 883/2010) for funding the research and for grants to M.U.S.N. and G.H., the Post-graduate degree in Ecology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for a Grant to R.A.M. S.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moisés Ubiratã Schmitz Nunes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gustavo Hallwass
    • 3
  • Renato Azevedo Matias Silvano
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Setor de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Dep. Ecologia and PPG Ecologia Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Universidade Federal do Oeste do ParáOriximináBrazil

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